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Orthodontic braces, commonly known as braces, are dental devices used to correct teeth alignment and bite issues. Among the different types of braces available, metal braces are the most traditional and widely used option. Metal braces have been used for decades to treat various orthodontic issues, such as crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, and spacing problems. They are highly effective in achieving desired dental alignment and are typically more affordable than other types of braces. Despite the availability of newer, more aesthetically pleasing options like ceramic braces and clear aligners, metal braces remain a popular choice due to their durability and effectiveness.

How do metal braces work Moray Orthodontics 4Benefits of Metal Braces

Despite the availability of various orthodontic treatments, metal braces offer several distinct advantages:

1. Effectiveness

Metal braces are highly effective in treating a wide range of orthodontic issues, from minor tooth misalignments to complex bite problems. They provide precise control over tooth movement, ensuring optimal results.

2. Durability

Made from high-grade stainless steel, metal braces are very durable and resistant to breakage. This makes them suitable for active individuals and those who might put their braces to the test.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

Metal braces are generally more affordable than other orthodontic options, such as ceramic braces or clear aligners. This makes them a practical choice for many patients.

4. Customisation

While metal braces are known for their distinctive appearance, modern advancements allow for some customisation. Patients can choose coloured elastic bands to add a personal touch and make their braces a unique expression of their style.

The Science Behind Metal Braces

Metal braces work on the principle of applying continuous pressure over time to gradually move teeth into their desired positions. The science behind this process involves several key concepts:

1. Bone Remodelling

Bone remodelling is the biological process that allows teeth to move through the bone in response to the pressure applied by braces. It involves two main activities:

  • Bone Resorption: On the side of the tooth where pressure is applied, osteoclasts (bone cells) break down bone tissue, creating space for the tooth to move.
  • Bone Deposition: On the opposite side of the tooth, osteoblasts (another type of bone cell) build new bone tissue to fill in the space created by the tooth’s movement.

This process of resorption and deposition allows the teeth to shift gradually over time without damaging the surrounding bone and tissues.

2. Orthodontic Force

The archwires and elastic ligatures of metal braces exert a controlled force on the teeth. This force is carefully calculated by the orthodontist to be strong enough to move the teeth but gentle enough to prevent damage. The force is distributed through the brackets and archwires, causing the teeth to slowly move in the desired direction.

3. Periodontal Ligament

The periodontal ligament, which attaches the teeth to the surrounding bone, plays a crucial role in tooth movement. When pressure is applied by the braces, the periodontal ligament is compressed on one side and stretched on the other. This stimulates the cellular activities involved in bone remodelling, facilitating the movement of the teeth.

How do metal braces work - Moray Orthodontics

Components of Metal Braces

Metal braces consist of several key components that work together to move teeth into their correct positions:


Brackets are small metal squares that are carefully bonded to the front surface of each tooth using a special dental cement. These brackets are crucial components of the braces system, serving as anchors for the archwires. By securely holding the archwires in place, brackets facilitate the application of pressure necessary to move teeth into their desired positions. Brackets are made from durable materials, such as stainless steel, and are designed to withstand the forces involved in orthodontic treatment. Their precise placement on each tooth ensures effective and efficient tooth movement throughout the treatment process.


Archwires are thin, flexible metal wires that run through the brackets and play a central role in the orthodontic treatment process. These wires are typically made of stainless steel or nickel-titanium, chosen for their strength and elasticity. The archwires apply consistent pressure to the teeth, guiding them into their correct positions over time. The orthodontist periodically adjusts or replaces the archwires to ensure that the appropriate amount of force is being applied to achieve the desired tooth movement. The gradual adjustments made to the archwires are critical for the overall success of the orthodontic treatment.

Ligatures (Elastic Bands)

Ligatures, also known as elastic bands or ties, are small rubber bands or metal ties that hold the archwires in place within the brackets. These ligatures come in a variety of colors, allowing patients to personalize their braces. During each orthodontic visit, the ligatures are typically changed, which also helps to maintain optimal hygiene. The primary function of ligatures is to secure the archwire to the brackets, ensuring that the applied pressure is effectively transmitted to the teeth. This consistent pressure is essential for the gradual and precise movement of teeth throughout the treatment period.

Orthodontic Bands

Orthodontic bands are metal rings that are sometimes placed around the molars to provide additional support and stability for the braces system. These bands are made from stainless steel and are bonded to the teeth using dental cement. Orthodontic bands are especially useful for patients requiring significant tooth movement or bite correction, as they can better withstand the forces exerted by the archwires and other components. By anchoring the molars, orthodontic bands help distribute the forces applied by the archwires more evenly, enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment.

Buccal Tubes

Buccal tubes are small metal parts attached to the orthodontic bands placed around the molars. These tubes are designed to hold the ends of the archwires securely in place. Buccal tubes typically feature slots or channels through which the archwires are threaded, allowing for easy adjustments and replacements during orthodontic visits. By providing a stable and secure connection point for the archwires, buccal tubes help maintain the integrity of the braces system, ensuring that the desired forces are consistently applied to move the teeth into their correct positions.


Springs are coiled devices that can be placed between brackets to either open or close spaces between teeth. There are two main types of springs used in orthodontics: open coil springs and closed coil springs. Open coil springs are used to create space between teeth by pushing them apart, while closed coil springs are used to close gaps by pulling teeth together. Springs are typically made of stainless steel and are integrated into the archwire system. They provide targeted force to specific teeth, aiding in the correction of spacing issues and ensuring that teeth are properly aligned.

Elastics (Interarch Rubber Bands)

Elastics, or interarch rubber bands, are larger rubber bands that can be attached to hooks on the brackets to adjust the bite and jaw alignment. These elastics are often used to correct overbites, underbites, and other jaw alignment issues by applying additional force to the teeth and jaws. Patients are typically instructed on how to attach and wear the elastics, and they are usually required to wear them for a significant portion of the day. The consistent use of elastics is crucial for achieving the desired bite correction, as they provide the necessary force to guide the jaws into proper alignment over time.

See How Metal Braces Work

Watch this short video to see how metal braces align teeth:

The Process of Getting Metal Braces

The journey to getting metal braces involves several steps, each designed to ensure the braces are properly fitted and that the treatment plan is tailored to the patient’s specific needs. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process:

1. Initial Consultation

The first step is an initial consultation with our orthodontist at Moray Orthodontics. During this visit, the orthodontist will:

  • Examine Your Teeth: A thorough examination of your teeth, jaws, and bite is conducted to determine the specific issues that need correction.
  • X-rays and Impressions: X-rays and impressions (moulds) of your teeth are taken to provide a detailed view of your dental structure and aid in creating a customized treatment plan.
  • Discussion of Treatment Options: The orthodontist will discuss different treatment options, including the pros and cons of metal braces, and address any questions or concerns you may have.

2. Treatment Planning

Based on the initial consultation, the orthodontist will develop a detailed treatment plan. This plan will outline the estimated duration of treatment, the specific goals, and the steps involved in achieving those goals.

3. Placement of Braces

The actual placement of metal braces typically takes one to two hours and involves the following steps:

  • Teeth Cleaning: Your teeth will be cleaned and dried to ensure the brackets adhere properly.
  • Bonding the Brackets: A special dental adhesive is applied to each tooth, and the brackets are placed onto the adhesive. The adhesive is then hardened using a curing light.
  • Inserting the Archwires: The archwires are threaded through the slots in the brackets.
  • Securing with Ligatures: Ligatures (elastic bands) are used to hold the archwires in place within the brackets.

4. Regular Adjustments

Throughout the treatment period, which typically ranges from one to three years, regular orthodontic visits are necessary. These visits usually occur every 4 to 8 weeks and involve:

  • Adjusting the Braces: The orthodontist will adjust the tension in the archwires to continue guiding the teeth into their correct positions.
  • Changing Ligatures: Elastic ligatures are usually replaced at each visit.
  • Monitoring Progress: The orthodontist will check the progress and make any necessary modifications to the treatment plan.

What to Expect During Treatment

Wearing metal braces involves some adjustments and lifestyle changes. Here’s what you can expect during your treatment journey:

1. Initial Discomfort

When braces are first applied or adjusted, it is common to experience some discomfort or soreness. This discomfort typically subsides within a few days. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help alleviate any pain.

How do metal braces work - Moray Orthodontics2. Oral Hygiene

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is essential when wearing braces to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth and braces clean:

  • Brushing: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush designed for braces.
  • Flossing: Floss daily using a floss threader or orthodontic floss to clean between your teeth and around the brackets.
  • Interdental Brushes: Use interdental brushes to clean between the brackets and under the wires where a regular toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Mouthwash: Rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce bacteria and plaque buildup.

3. Dietary Restrictions

Certain foods can damage braces or get stuck in them, so it’s important to avoid:

  • Hard Foods: Nuts, hard candies, and ice can break brackets and wires.
  • Sticky Foods: Gum, caramel, and taffy can get stuck in the braces and are difficult to clean.
  • Chewy Foods: Bagels and licoricey can bend wires and pull brackets loose.
  • Sugary Foods: Limit sugary snacks and drinks to reduce the risk of cavities.

4. Managing Emergencies

Occasionally, issues such as loose brackets, broken wires, or irritation from the braces can occur. Here’s how to manage these common problems:

  • Loose Brackets: If a bracket becomes loose, apply orthodontic wax to hold it in place until you can see your orthodontist.
  • Broken Wires: If a wire breaks or pokes your cheek or gum, use a clean pencil eraser to gently push the wire back into place or cover it with orthodontic wax.
  • Mouth Sores: Rinse with warm salt water to soothe irritated areas and use orthodontic wax to cover any parts of the braces that are causing discomfort.

Common Misconceptions About Metal Braces

There are several misconceptions about metal braces that may cause hesitation for potential patients. Let’s address some of these myths:

How do metal braces work - Moray Orthodontics (2)1. Braces Are Only for Children and Teenagers

While it is common for children and teenagers to get braces, many adults also undergo orthodontic treatment. Age is not a limiting factor for getting braces, and adult patients can achieve excellent results.

2. Braces Are Painful

While there can be some initial discomfort when braces are first applied or adjusted, modern orthodontic techniques have made braces more comfortable than ever. Any discomfort is usually temporary and manageable with over-the-counter pain relief.

3. Braces Take Too Long to Work

The duration of orthodontic treatment with braces varies depending on the complexity of the case. While some cases may take longer, many patients see significant improvements within the first few months. The orthodontist will provide an estimated treatment time during the initial consultation.

Sara ALWhy Choose Moray Orthodontics for Metal Braces?

Choosing Moray Orthodontics for metal braces ensures you receive top-quality care and expertise in a welcoming environment. Our team of skilled orthodontists is dedicated to creating personalised treatment plans that cater to your unique dental needs, ensuring optimal results. We use the latest technology and techniques to provide efficient and effective orthodontic treatment.

We offer competitive pricing, with metal braces starting at just £1,950 per arch, making our services accessible and affordable. At Moray Orthodontics, we prioritise patient comfort and satisfaction, guiding you through every step of your orthodontic journey with professionalism and care.

What Our Patients Are Saying

Norman Browne
Norman Browne
First class treatment
Jacob James Sutherland
Jacob James Sutherland
About a year into my treatment, very pleased with everything. Very polite and helpful staff. looking forward to seeing my teeth when my braces come off.

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